A Walk Through Islamic Cairo

Historic Cairo contains the greatest concentration of Islamic monuments in the world, both in quality and quantity, and is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List on par with Venice. Among Cairo’s monuments are mosques, mausolea, and madrasa (religious schools) built by prominent patrons between the seventh and the nineteenth centuries. There are also hammam (public baths), palaces, houses, city gates, and wikala (large buildings centered around a courtyard that combine living units in the upper stories with commercial uses at ground level).

A type of building unique to Cairo is the sabil-kuttab, a two-story building with a covered water fountain to serve the community on the ground floor and a simple room for teaching young children to read the Quran on the upper level.

Although historic buildings are scattered widely throughout the city. Many of the major monuments form natural groups or clusters that are mutually enhancing. A visitor standing in the midst of a group of monuments can have some idea of what Cairo must have been like in its glorious past.

These clusters create a general pattern along al-Mu’izz li-Din Allah Street the spine of the historic city, and part of al-Gamaliya Street running parallel on the east side. Expanding southward, the pattern continues along the Street of the Tent Makers, then to the east of Bab Zuwayla along ai-Darb al-Ahmar, following the sweep to the monumental mosque of Sultan Hassan at the foot of the Citadel.

Anyway, there is still a lot to know about basic characters of Islamic Cairo and the best landmarks that worth visiting, which I’ll talk about through coming articles.

Muhammed Khaled is an assistant lecturer in a civil engineering college. He is concerned about Egyptian culture and history, and writes in the Egyptian Panorama blog where you can discover and see more about Egypt through a collection of informative and simple articles and reviews about everything interesting you may like to know on both ancient and modern Egypt.

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